The Dalbo dog is an extinct dog breed that was largely used to protect free roaming cows, sheep, horses and goats from wolves, brown bears and cattle thieves. It was also used to herd cattle, and as a protection/guard dog. It became extinct in around 1870. No dogs of this breed was found when an inventory was done in 1913. This dog breed was never common in Sweden, but it did occur in the following Swedish counties: Västergötland, Bohuslän, Dalsland, Värmland and the Norwegian county of Östfold. The extinction of the Dalbo dog is linked to the near wipe-out of wolves and bears in Scandinavia in around 1890. It was then considered too expensive to continue to have very large dogs, that did not seem to fill a clear purpose. An ill-fated eruption of rabies in 1854, might have contributed to the downfall of the breed. Another reason might have been the great Swedish famine of 1867-1868.
From the Icelandic Sagas, there are indications to suggest, that the Vikings had acquired large cattle/guard/war dogs from their invasion of Britain. These British dogs are in turn thought to have been descendants of molosser type dogs, left in Britain by the Romans. In Njals Saga, the Viking "Gunnar from Hlidarende" is given a large Irish Wolfhound as a gift. In the Olaf Tryggvassons Saga "Heimskringla" there is a mention of his dog, and it seems to have been a very large herding dog. There is a preserved, large brown skin, of a Dalbo dog in Hindås, Sweden. The skin clearly shows molosser-type characteristics. There are some photos and paintings, that might show the breed. A stuffed dog at the Natural History Museum in Stockholm, was thought to have been a Dalbo dog, but it proved in fact to be an English Mastiff.
The first time the breed is mentioned is in Gunno Brynolphi Blutherus' (*1609-+1657) book Dalia printed in 1632 AD. The breed got its name in print again in 1843 AD, when Axel Emanuel Holmberg (*1817-+1861) published his book "Bohusläns Historia och Beskrifning", or "Bohuslän's History and Description." Oral history of the breed dates back to around A.D. 1700. The stories that remain, tell of a legendary giant dog who killed wolves, took on marauding brown bears and defended small children who had got lost in the deep Swedish forests. There are also stories of Dalbo dogs who fought to the death, saving humans from wolfpacks. One local priest claimed, in A.D. 1833, that his "Dalbo dog has a bite of a crocodile" in his diary.
The Dalbo dog was a very large, heavy dog with a long furry coat. Its shoulder height for males, was reported to have been 80 cm. The fur coat was brown, dark and some individuals are reported to have had big white fur patches, much like a St. Bernard dog. It has been said that the Dalbo dog closely resembled the living Portuguese breed of Cao da Serra da estrela. Others claim it was more like the modern day Leonberger, or the English Mastiff. There are a few pictures of what some think is a Dalbo dog, and the most recent of these are from 1905.
The Dalbo dog was noted for its courage and bold nature.
Even though the original Dalbo dog is extinct, there are Swedish attempts to reconstruct the breed using related breeds of dogs. The results of this are promising, but have yet to be given a breed standard.
- (von Essen, 1955)
- (von Essen, 1955)
- (Dalslands Forminnesförbund och hembygdsförbund, 1955)